Former Burrell High School Swim Coach Takes Plea Deal
GREENSBURG (KDKA) — A former high school swim coach accused of having a sexual relationship with a student will spend time behind bars.
Ray Novak, 33, will spend five to 10 years in prison after entering a last-minute plea deal Monday morning.
He pleaded guilty to charges he had a sexual relationship with a girl on the team in exchange for prosecutors dropping 11 of the most serious charges against him.
If he had been found guilty at trial, Novak would have faced a mandatory 15 to 30 years in prison.
“He felt under the circumstance it was best thing for him to do was to plead guilty on advice of counsel in his best interest,” Duke George, Novak’s defense attorney, said.
Prosecutors presented evidence last week of more than 6,000 text messages exchanged between Novak and the victim over a four-month period.
The alleged relationship happened during the 2008-2009 swim season when Novak was 29 and the victim was 15.
The alleged incidents happened at the victim’s home, Novak’s car and in the pool area before practice.
“The thing that boggles my mind in this whole case is from the day these allegations supposedly came to the information of the girls – these are all young girls – not one person told their mother or father, not one person reported it to a swim coach, not one person reported it to a teacher,” George says, “which leads me to believe – and this was the basis of our argument – that this was all made up.”
Novak was initially scheduled to go on trial in September of 2011, but left town in the days before he was due in court.
He later turned himself in to authorities in Louisiana. His attorney told KDKA-TV that Novak is a good guy who got caught in a bad situation.
“Ray was never at all in trouble before in his life,” George said. “Ray took care of grandmother who was in her eighties and she needed constant care and everybody on the swim team liked him.”
Novak will remain at the Westmoreland County Jail where he will remain until he serves his time in state prison.
His alleged accuser, now 19, is a college student.